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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

MICROSOFT STICKS UP FOR H-1B WORKERS

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I'm glad one of America's greatest companies is not afraid to tell it like it is on the subject of skilled worker immigration even if they'll get flak.

Mean time, protectionist Senator Chuck (wait, I'm a Republican?) Grassley continues to beat the drums for destroying the H-1B program.

Finally, on this first day of the H-1B filing period (which will still probably get used up right away), various organizations are weighing in on the value of the program. NAFSA: Association of International Educators makes a strong case as does AILA.

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  1. Kevin Flanagan's Avatar
    We need to recruit all of you out of work immigration lawyers for a new business model - suing American companies, India, Inc., and Desi bodyshops for civil rights violations.

    After all, these entities have been discriminating against American I.T. professionals for over a decade.

    FYI, the Dept. of Justice's Civil Rights Division handles L-1 fraud cases.

    Seriously.
  2. George Chell's Avatar
    "Mean time, protectionist Senator Chuck (wait, I'm a Republican?) Grassley continues to beat the drums for destroying the H-1B program."

    No! Mr. Grassley is working hard to destroy American jobs by having them moved abroad like IBM just did.

  3. George Chell's Avatar
    Chuck Grassley's vision for America...

    http://www.networkworld.com/news/2009/032609-ibm-layoffs.html

    And perhaps Dick Durbin's too!
  4. George Chell's Avatar
    "After all, these entities have been discriminating against American I.T. professionals for over a decade."

    More have been discriminating against American IT professionals by hiring foreigners in Canada, Singapore, Australia and elsewhere and sending jobs directly to India where the workers will be paid far lower salaries than the bodyshops pay!

  5. George Chell's Avatar
    I would strongly suggest that if Grassley is not hell bent on destroying the American economy..ie., if that is not his goal, he needs to take a good look at this article..

    http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1887779,00.html

    "But, outsourcing may be making a big comeback as word leaked that IBM (IBM) would cut about 5,000 jobs in the U.S. and move the work to India. This may be the beginning of a new wave of exporting of American jobs to developing countries which have large pools of well-educated workers."

    "The IBM news is troubling because labor costs in the U.S., even among highly educated adults, are falling. American workers should be available for employment at salaries much lower than they were two years ago. But, it appears that IBM has elected to move jobs offshore rather than keep them in the U.S. despite the trend of more tech workers losing their jobs here."

    Lousy analysis. US labor costs are falling despite restrictions on H1B and fewer H1Bs, because the jobs are fewer, and they are being outsourced or moved out permanently through FDI.


  6. JoeF's Avatar
    I don't really think the H1 quota gets filled soon.
    Last year, there was a lot of buzz about people having multiple applications from different employers, just to make it into the quota. That's completely absent this year.
    I think the enforcement actions have scared the unethical companies to lay low and not file anything.
    Just yesterday there was news about another company being forced to pay back wages to employees on H1: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2009/03/31/financial/f082338D36.DTL&type=business
  7. Kevin Flanagan's Avatar
    It looks like the H-1B and L-1 visas are history. Even Vivek Wadhwa wants them abolished. What he wants to replace them with is another story. But that should take years, considering this ecomomy and pro-labor adminstration. In the meantime the flood of guest workers will stop.

    "Kevin, it is nice to get an intelligent and respectful message from you.

    I understand the issue you are raising. There are a lot of third-rate body shops who bring in unqualified workers. And the H1B visa is flawed. It is clear that you have seen the worst of the immigration system. But there are also many skilled immigrants who have contributed in a big way to the U.S. economy. I know hundreds of these people and was a tech CEO myself. You can ask Norm Matloff about my background. My first company employed 1000 AMERICAN workers at its peak and the second had about 150 Americans and 50 Russians.

    You may also have read my research which showed that more than half of Silicon Valley's startups from 1995-2005 had immigrant CEO's or CTO's (I believe that both of these are equally critical positions). They employed 450,000 workers in 2005 - which is more than all of the H1B's visas issued to tech workers in that period. So at the macro level, skilled immigrants added to employment.

    But you are right that the H1B lends itself to abuse and you have seen this first-hand. My solution is to abolish this visa altogether and require companies to bring workers in only on permanent resident visas. No, this won't create a flood of workers because permanent residents have the right to leave a job if they are being underpaid or abused. And companies won't risk bringing in third-rate talent when this costs them as much as first-rate American talent plus $10-20K in visa and relocation costs. You would have far fewer skilled workers coming here under the approach I am suggesting. And we would probably see the benefits which top -tier immigrants can provide by fueling innovation and starting companies.

    I wish you the best and would be glad to help you if I can.

    Regards,

    Vivek"
  8. George Chell's Avatar
    "It looks like the H-1B and L-1 visas are history. Even Vivek Wadhwa wants them abolished. What he wants to replace them with is another story. But that should take years, considering this ecomomy and pro-labor adminstration. In the meantime the flood of guest workers will stop."

    It will! If the jobs are moving to them, why should they move here...

    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/ibm-to-fire-5-000-us-workers-india-to-benefit/439653/

  9. JoeF's Avatar
    "It looks like the H-1B and L-1 visas are history."

    Wishful thinking. If you actually quoted Mr. Matloff somewhere then you are rather clueless. Mr. Matloff doesn't have any credentials wrt. H1s. He is merely a spokesperson for the anti-H1 crowd. His "evidence" is cobbled together from newspaper articles and the like.
    Of course there is some abuse of the H1, just like there is abuse of any human endeavor. That's why enforcement is important. With the current enforcement, the abuse of the H1 is minimized.
    And the wet dreams of the antis like yourself are just remaining that...
  10. George Chell's Avatar
    "Mr. Matloff doesn't have any credentials wrt. H1s. He is merely a spokesperson for the anti-H1 crowd. His "evidence" is cobbled together from newspaper articles and the like."

    I thought he quoted Wadhawa. Knowing Wadhawa myself, I have to ask him. As far as Matloff is concerned, everytime I bring up outsourcing or IBM moving jobs to India, he dodges the question becuase he has no clue.

    "Of course there is some abuse of the H1, just like there is abuse of any human endeavor. That's why enforcement is important. With the current enforcement, the abuse of the H1 is minimized."

    Wonder why these bodyshops want to import labor if they could as well get better deal by moving jobs abroad.
  11. George Chell's Avatar
    "And the wet dreams of the antis like yourself are just remaining that..."

    For all I know he may be one of those Americans in Dubai and Singapore who complain about foreigners taking American jobs while they have no problems working abroad on fat expat salaries with maids, gardeners and everyone else..so that their wives are free to knit and sip copy at the local borders book store complaining about their son trying to bring a local school girl (in Singapore) home.

  12. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    "Kevin" - You're a member of the public and thus have access to H-1B public access files. I presume you have filed complaints against all of the companies out there you think must be violating the law by underpaying foreign workers. How's that going?
  13. JoeF's Avatar
    "As far as Matloff is concerned, everytime I bring up outsourcing or IBM moving jobs to India, he dodges the question becuase he has no clue."

    No surprise. I challenged him about 10 years ago to provide real evidence or the widespread abuse he alleges instead of quoting from sensationalist news articles. He still hasn't been able to do that.
  14. JoeF's Avatar
    "I presume you have filed complaints against all of the companies out there you think must be violating the law by underpaying foreign workers. How's that going?"

    LOL. These guys are all hat and no cattle.
    They are loudmouthed and obnoxious, but when it comes to put their money where their mouth is, they cop out.
    Thanks for calling this guy's bluff.
  15. JoeF's Avatar
    "I thought he quoted Wadhawa."
    Well, for somebody who posts with the name of a dead person, abusing that person's plight for his personal agenda, and apparently uses the name in his communication with Wadhawa as well (see the salutation), I have reason to doubt that he quoted accurately.
  16. George Chell's Avatar
    Wadhawa is alive..he just released a study on foreigners working in the US and their contributions. He sounds like a few of the American male and female expats in Singapore..living on fat expat salaries but are not very happy when a Singaporean tells them that he or she would like to work in the US. There was this young attractive lady with a degree in chemical engineering who got admitted into Purdue and MIT and this American woman was lecturing her about why she should return to Singapore and not take American jobs! Of all the gall! Brits are the same, actually more so!
  17. Kevin Flanagan's Avatar
    Greg,

    I filed a W-H4 complaint with the DOL office. The agent did a prelim. investigation and found that the case was out of their jurisdiction because the company had too few H-1Bs to be considered H-1B dependent. He said that there are alot of loopholes, and when I asked him if there have been investigations of H-1B fraud, he said it is rare, but there has been a lot of activity recently.

    He is sending me a summary and said that the company most likely brought the workers from India as L-1s, and that I can file a complaint with the Civil Rights Department of the DOJ.

    I'll keep you posted. Guest workers with L-1s seem to be the biggest reason for the massive displacement of I.T professionals in America, more so than H-1Bs. It appears that workers employed by an Indian contractor that was hired by Wachovia were possibly L-1s:

    http://www.wsoctv.com/news/19047187/detail.html

    Wachovia used the third party to skirt TARP regulations designed to keep companies getting tax dollar from higher lower-wage guest workers.

    "Neither Wachovia nor Bank of America would tell Eyewitness News if they're still using foreign workers hired by third-party vendors, but Eyewitness News obtained internal Wachovia documents showing workers already on-shored to Charlotte. An organizational chart shows a Wachovia work group where 12 of 22 software engineers were brought to Charlotte by a technology consulting company called Synechron.

    Jeff said it's common knowledge within Wachovia that Synechron brought all 12 of those workers from India to take Charlotte jobs.

    "Within my department, it's mostly on-shored foreign resources, and the software we built is basically being handed over to them," he said."
  18. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Kevin - Little you are saying makes sense. First, DOL has jurisdiction to investigate all H-1B employers not just dependent employers. Any member of the public can file a complaint against any H-1B employer regarding underpayment of wages. H-1B dependency only adds additional restrictions on recruiting and layoffs. Wage requirements apply to all H-1B employers.

    Second, L-1s in Silicon Valley are actually a lot more rare than you might think. The "job shops" were basically taken out of the L-1 business a few years ago when the law was changed by Congress to bar L-1s from being placed at client sites or being used in contractor situations. And US companies interested in employing folks directly have to first employ them overseas for a subsidiary for a full year and then show USCIS and a consular officer that the person is either coming as an executive or a manager or, if coming as an L-1B, that they are coming in to apply proprietary knowledge and that a US worker could not easily be located to do the work. That's why the vast majority of L-1s are used for very high level, highly compensated employees.

    If you know of job shops putting L-1s at third party sites, then by all means pursue this. I've said many times on this blog that we need to aggressively pursue enforcing existing restrictions rather than loading the system down with new ones.
  19. anonymous's Avatar
    Greg,

    I hate to say this but I have to disagree with you on L1's. Some big IT companies do use lots of L1B visas, paying very low wages (as there is prevailing wage requirement for L1). May be USCIS is not enforcing L1s very well now. For example one of the big companies (TCS) does not come on top of the list of H1B users because they use more L1B's. That way employees can't quit easily (need a new H1 with quota to quit and thats not easy).
  20. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Anonymous - If you are interested in a response from me, you need to at least use a name. I don't expect it to be your real name, but something that other readers here will be able to call you.
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